Griffen Tandem: This is actually a pretty interesting tandem that I’d definitely want to have if I was a collector. However, the one thing potential buyers need to take note of is the incredibly short stoker compartment; I think it’s about 25″ vs. your standard Santana at 27.75″ or a Co-Motion at 28.5″. It would be a non-starter for us, as our Calfee uses a 30″ stoker compartment. All that said, the Griffen with its Metal Matrix Composite frame is definitely a great conversation piece. Pricing is probably at the high-end given it’s age, but the condition and build are still pretty much top shelf. Regardless, someone will snatch this up, either a current Griffen owner or just someone with a few bucks in their pocket that likes unusual tandems and bikes. There just weren’t too many of these made. I preferred the white/silver/black paint scheme.
Vintage Colnago Tandem: Here’s proof in the power of brand name loyalty. As nice as Colnago’s are, their tandems by today’s standards were nothing special. But, as the seller notes, there weren’t that many of them so the few that do exist are often times coveted by the Colnago aficionados and collectors… somewhat along the same lines as the very rare Serotta tandems. Again, the Serotta tandems were nothing special by today’s standards given the constraints they had with tubing selection, but nicely executed and, well, stable mates of the coveted single bikes bearing the same brand name. $10,000… who knows. Colnago owners sometimes drive Ferrari’s… yes, there’s a connection.
Jack Taylor Racing Tandem: This one’s pretty neat and would truly be a great addition for a collector if only because of the frame design, Campy racing group and of course the Jack Taylor pedigree. However, I’m pretty sure this one’s been out on ebay for a very long time, perhaps even longer than the next tandem that I’ll be highlighting. Once again, beauty and value is in the eye of the beholder and as interesting and collectible as this tandem may be, I’m not sure the Buy it Now price is all that attractive.
Santana Track Tandem: This poor thing has been on ebay for what seems like an eternity. Another offering from Cycle Smithy in Chicago (same as the Jack Taylor) that has a pretty hefty price tag for a track tandem made by a builder who really doesn’t specialize in building track-specific frames. I’m sure it will ride well enough, but given that track tandem racing is pretty much limited to paralympic events or exhibition races such as the Tandemonium series at Trexlertown, PA, there’s a very narrow market for this type of tandem. And, just because it’s rare doesn’t really mean it’s necessarily great or valuable.
Santana Sovereign: Again, I think this one’s been on ebay for quite some time and for good reason: despite what you may have read in Santana’s marketing literature, their tandems depreciate just as fast as any other tandem or bicycle. This is actually an original Sovereign, which is to say it’s an all-steel, fillet-brazed frame from what I’ll guess is the early 90’s. At the time, Santana had two high-end steel tandem offerings that used the same lovely fillet-brazed frames, but were differentiated by their component groups. The Sovereign was the touring model with a triple ring drive whereas the Team was the racing model with a DuraAce component group and double ring drive. Again, lovely-looking tandems but by today’s standards they’re incredibly heavy and not all that stiff. Tubesets have come a long way. Clearly a nice tandem for avery tall rider, but that’s a pretty narrow market.
Meridian Triplet: This may actually be a pretty good deal; I’d offer a little less since the seller left the door open for that. Meridian was a ‘wanna-be’ Santana Cycles firm started up by a former Santana manager, Jim Leis. The Meridian’s were not all that different from a Santana in terms of the design philosophy, geometry, etc. and were pretty good bikes. However, the business foundered. But, the tandems that were produced are still out there and remain good values in the used market since they are essentially orphans. Of course, so are Burley’s at this point. So, if someone in Northern Illinois was looking to dip their toes into the triplet world, this wouldn’t be a bad way to do it.
Victor Courting Tandem: An interesting restoration project, but just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Seriously, there were hundreds of company’s building bicycles and tandems at the turn of century and some were better than others, but the technology was pretty rudimentary. This would be a good project for a few hundred bucks, but unless Ignaz Schwinn or Henry Ford were in this particular bike’s history, that’s a pretty steep asking price.
Ibis Uncle Fester: Pretty sure this is a Fester and not the follow-on Cousin It. I remember when someone scored a sister bike to this ’93ish Ibis Uncle Fester in Ibis racing colors back a few years for $850; that was a great deal. Ibis’ tandems have an amazing following and even the models like the Fester that don’t have the Ibis trademark “Hand Job” cable guide or “Toe Jam” frame pump peg often pull in big money. A nice find but, once again… there’s a reason this one’s been for sale for so long. $1,500 would even be a bit much IMHO. But, I’d love to have one for banging around. I just wouldn’t want to pay more than I would to get one of the last USA-Made Cannondale Street Tandems for knocking around.
’39 Sun Wasp: This may be the best of the bunch. If anyone ever wanted to have a really interesting tandem from a bygone era of cycling, the Wasps are good examples. These were analogous to being the Rolls-Royce of bicycles in their day; heavy… really heavy and fully equipped. Finding one that won’t require hours of searching for parts, decals and other bits to restore is truly a blessing in disguise unless you like that sort of project. Price isn’t awful if it’s as complete, mechanically accurate and functional as this one. Yes, it’s definitely got a lot of rust and the paint is showing it’s age, but there’s something to be said for retaining the patina on a survivor like this.
Cannondale MT800: $2,000… REALLY?! This tandem had an MSRP of $2,203.99 when it was new back in 2002. Don’t get me wrong, great tandems… when they were made here in the US. But that price expectation for a 13-year old tandem is pretty sporty IMHO. However, that said, there aren’t that many low-cost entry-level tandems that would be as good as this for a starter tandem, so if the seller would take a reasonable offer it might be a good find.
OK, those are the ones that grabbed my attention. There are several other premium-priced Santana’s, a few Burley’s and other interesting tandems up for auction. But, these seemed to warrant some attention and discussion. In general, the pricing on a lot of what I’m seeing feels Silicon Valley’ish, not Main Street USA. Then again, the average price of a tandem has continued to climb since the demise of Burley who for the longest time provided a great entry-level price point… as did Cannondale towards the end of it’s life. Yeah, sorry… Cannondale is dead to me. It’s just another brand name owned by a huge corporation that markets all kinds of stuff made overseas and brought to our shores in container ships.
For folks who are looking for some more mainstream tandems that aren’t all that old and lightly used, the Tandem Club of America’s classified site has a pretty good selection. And, since they’re not ebay auctions, you can actually contact the sellers by phone in most cases and do a deal the old fashion way. http://tandemclub.org/classifieds/browse-ads/